Martin Puchner

  • Dead Reckoning

    In a famous cartoon by Achille Lemot, Gustave Flaubert holds up the heart of Emma Bovary impaled on a knife. A similar picture could be drawn of J. M. Coetzee. Even though he is an outspoken vegetarian and defender of animal rights, Coetzee has no qualms about subjecting his characters to the cruelest vivisection. His instrument is a third-person narrator who enjoys unrestricted access to the minds and hearts of his characters. Recently, Coetzee has applied the technique to his own person. In the two autobiographical volumes Boyhood (1997) and Youth (2002), he dissects the young John Coetzee

  • Nothing But the Truths

    On November 7, three days after Election Day, Alain Badiou gave a lecture at New York University on theater and philosophy. The discussion afterward, conducted in a mixture of French and English, quickly turned to the president-elect. “Obama?” Badiou replied. “As actor or as politician?” When the audience laughed, he explained that he did not mean the distinction negatively. While it was too soon to judge Obama as politician, Badiou stipulated, we could already judge him as actor, one who had broken with modern modes of self-presentation by returning to a classical style: sober, thoughtful,